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You must have an honest understanding of who you are, what you know, and what you can do. Also, note that it is the followers, not the leader or someone else who determines if the leader is successful. If they do not trust or lack confidence in their leader, then they will be uninspired. To be successful you have to convince your followers, not yourself or your superiors, that you are worthy of being followed.
Different people require different styles of leadership. For example, a new hire requires more supervision than an experienced employee. A person who lacks motivation requires a different approach than one with a high degree of motivation. You must know your people! The fundamental starting point is having a good understanding of human nature, such as needs, emotions, and motivation. You must come to know your employees' be, know, and doattributes.
You lead through two-way communication. Much of it is nonverbal. For instance, when you "set the example," that communicates to your people that you would not ask them to perform anything that you would not be willing to do. What and how you communicate either builds or harms the relationship between you and your employees.
All situations are different. What you do in one situation will not always work in another. You must use your judgment to decide the best course of action and the leadership style needed for each situation. For example, you may need to confront an employee for inappropriate behavior, but if the confrontation is too late or too early, too harsh or too weak, then the results may prove ineffective.
Also note that the situation normally has a greater effect on a leader's action than his or her traits. This is because while traits may have an impressive stability over a period of time, they have little consistency across situations (Mischel, 1968).
Various forces will affect these four factors. Examples of forces are your relationship with your seniors, the skill of your followers, the informal leaders within your organization, and how your organization is organized.
Bass' Theory of Leadership
Bass' theory of leadership states that there are three basic ways to explain how people become leaders (Stogdill, 1989; Bass, 1990). The first two explain the leadership development for a small number of people. These theories are:
Some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles. This is the Trait Theory.
A crisis or important event may cause a person to rise to the occasion, which brings out extraordinary leadership qualities in an ordinary person. This is the Great Events Theory.
People can choose to become leaders. People can learn leadership skills. This is the Transformational or Process Leadership Theory. It is the most widely accepted theory today and the premise on which this guide is based.
Characteristics of a good Leader
What makes a person want to follow a leader? People want to be guided by those they respect and who have a clear sense of direction. To gain respect, they must be ethical. A sense of direction is achieved by conveying a strong vision of the future.
When a person is deciding if she respects you as a leader, she does not think about your attributes, rather, she observes what you do so that she can know who you really are. She uses this observation to tell if you are an honorable and trusted leader or a self-serving person who misuses authority to look good and get promoted. Self-serving leaders are not as effective because their employees only obey them, not follow them. They succeed in many areas because they present a good image to their seniors at the expense of their workers.
Be Know Do
The basis of good leadership is honorable character and selfless service to your organization. In your employees' eyes, your leadership is everything you do that effects the organization's objectives and their well-being. Respected leaders concentrate on (U.S. Army, 1983):
What they are [be] (such as beliefs and character)
What they know (such as job, tasks, and human nature)
What they do (such as implementing, motivating, and providing direction).
BE a professional. For e.g. be loyal to the organization, perform selfless service and take personal responsibility.
BE a professional who possess good character traits like honesty, competence, candor, commitment, integrity, courage, straightforwardness, imagination.
KNOW the four factors of leadership - follower, leader, communication, situation.
KNOW yourself. The strengths and weaknesses of your character, knowledge, and skills.
KNOW human nature, human needs, emotions, and how people respond to stress.
KNOW your job. Be proficient and be able to train others in their tasks.
KNOW your organization. Like where to go for help, its climate and culture, who the unofficial leaders are etc.
DO provide direction. For e.g. directions for goal setting, problem solving, decision making, planning.
DO implement. Communicate, coordinate, supervise, evaluate.
DO motivate. Develop morale and esprit de corps in the organization, train, coach, counsel.
Important keys to effective leadership
According to a study by the Hay Group, a global management consultancy, there are 75 key components of employee satisfaction (Lamb, McKee, 2004). They found that:
Trust and confidence in top leadership was the single most reliable predictor of employee satisfaction in an organization.
Effective communication by leadership in three critical areas was the key to winning organizational trust and confidence:
Helping employees understand the company's overall business strategy.
Helping employees understand how they contribute to achieving key business objectives.
Sharing information with employees on both how the company is doing and how an employee's own division is doing - relative to strategic business objectives.
Principles of Leadership
To help you be, know, and do, one must follow these eleven principles of leadership (U.S. Army, 1983).
Know yourself and seek self-improvement - In order to know yourself, you have to understand your be, know, and do, attributes. Seeking self-improvement means continually strengthening your attributes. This can be accomplished through self-study, formal classes, reflection, and interacting with others.
Be technically proficient - As a leader, you must know your job and have a solid familiarity with your employees' tasks.
Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions - Search for ways to guide your organization to new heights. And when things go wrong, they always do sooner or later - do not blame others. Analyze the situation, take corrective action, and move on to the next challenge.
Make sound and timely decisions - Use good problem solving, decision making, and planning tools.
Set the example - Be a good role model for your employees. They must not only hear what they are expected to do, but also see. We must become the change we want to see - Mahatma Gandhi
Know your people and look out for their well-being - Know human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for your workers.
Keep your workers informed - Know how to communicate with not only them, but also seniors and other key people.
Develop a sense of responsibility in your workers - Help to develop good character traits that will help them carry out their professional responsibilities.
Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished - Communication is the key to this responsibility.
Train as a team - Although many so called leaders call their organization, department, section, etc. a team; they are not really teams...they are just a group of people doing their jobs.
Use the full capabilities of your organization - By developing a team spirit, you will be able to employ your organization, department, section, etc. to its fullest capabilities.
So in a nutshell, you must be trustworthy and you have to be able to communicate a vision of where the organization needs to go, to be an effective leader. Leadership has a high correlation with all elements of the organizational learning system and it is a means to leverage knowledge through organizational learning.
Business leaders in New Zealand
Rod Drury: Founder and CEO, Xero
Rod Drury is founder and CEO of Xero, NZX listed Software as a Service (SaaS) online accounting solution for Small Businesses.
Rod was founder and CEO of AfterMail which was acquired by Quest Software in January 2006 and subsequently won Best Exchange Product at TechEd 2006 in Boston. Rod co-founded USA based Context Connect Incorporated which provides directory solutions for mobile devices. Rod has international patents in the directories area. Prior to this Rod was Chief Technology Officer of Advantage Group (now Provenco) where he spent significant time in the USA working with leading international technology companies. In 1995 Rod established Glazier Systems, one of New Zealand's leading software development and consulting companies. Glazier Systems was acquired by Advantage Group in 1999 and continues today as Intergen. In the late 80s to early 90s Rod worked primarily for Ernst & Young/Arthur Young, as well as spending several years working on telecommunication billing systems both in New Zealand and the United States.
Through his career Rod has maintained a close relationship with Microsoft and was selected as New Zealand's first representative on the Microsoft MSDN Regional Director program, holding the role from 1997 to 2000. Rod achieved Microsoft MVP status for his work in the early days of Active Server Pages. Rod was an Independent Director of TradeMe - New Zealand's most successful eCommerce Internet site- when it was sold to listed Australian media giant Fairfax. Rod continues on the TradeMe Advisory Board. Rod joined NZ Trade & Enterprise Beachheads Programme Advisory Board in August 2006 and is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors. Rod has a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration (BCA) from Victoria University of Wellington majoring in Accounting and sits on the Commerce Facility Advisory Board.
Rod is also a Director of the New Zealand Stock Exchange. In 2009 Rod won a Flying Kiwi Award and was admitted to the New Zealand HiTech Hall of Fame. In July 2008 Rod was conferred the status of Honorary Fellow of the New Zealand Computer Society (HFNZCS), the highest status that can be bestowed on an individual in the ICT profession, for his achievements, advocacy and active mentoring of others in the industry. Rod won a World Class New Zealand award in 2008 and was NZ Hi-Tech Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006 and again in 2007. Rod won the Absolutely Creatively Wellington Award in 2007. Rod has 'paid it forward' with angel investments in a number of startups including award winning business planning software PlanHQ and WhatsInPlay.
Prior to having three children, Rod enjoyed windsurfing, surfing, mountain biking and snowboarding.
Paul Reynolds: Chief Executive, Telecom Group
Dr Paul Reynolds was appointed Chief Executive of the Telecom Group on June 28 2007, effective from 27 September 2007. His previous role is as CEO of BT Wholesale in the United Kingdom. Paul joined BT in 1983 after completing a doctorate in geology at the University of London. He has had a distinguished career, encompassing senior leadership roles in sales and marketing, strategy, information systems, broadband and guiding BT's wholesale business through the complex process of operational separation, when Openreach was created. He served on BT's Board of Directors from 2001. In 2006, the Telecommunications Industry Association of America awarded him its 'Global Icon' award for his leadership and innovation.